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Mediterranean Mussels

November 30, 2014

A quick post to try to get back into the swing of things and show some love to this recently-neglected blog. If you look through my collection of mussel recipes you’ll see lots that use a tomato base. You can’t really go wrong combining mussels and tomatoes, and if you include a broth you’ll definitely want to equip your guests with spoons, because they’ll want to leave their bowls empty.

This is based on a Greek recipe called mussels saganaki, with a couple further Mediterranean twists–bell pepper, which evokes a bit of Spain, and fennel seed. I love what fennel seed can do to a dish. I find using an anise-flavoured liqueur like Ouzo spreads the flavour around too much. Using fennel seed, it doesn’t really combine, but every few bites you get this wonderful burst of intense flavour.

You’ll have to forgive me if these directions are a little imprecise. You have lots of room to improvise here and still come up with a great dish. And it takes little time and effort to prepare–we were still able to enjoy a Saturday night date night with this even though I didn’t get home from soccer until after nine!


Mediterranean Mussels

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely diced
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
2 bay leaves
1 red pepper, diced
1 can stewed or diced tomatoes with the juice (540 ml)
a generous splash of red wine
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tsp fennel seed
about 3 lbs mussels
1/3 cup sliced kalamata olives (you’ll see from the pictures I used manzanilla, it’s what I had on hand)
feta cheese, to crumble overtop
don’t forget a nice crusty loaf of bread to serve alongside

photo(11)1. Warm the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for about five minutes until it’s starting to soften. Add the garlic, celery and bay leaves and cook a few minutes more. Add the red pepper and cook that for a few minutes. Now add the tomatoes with the juice (chop the tomatoes if they’re full stewed tomatoes), the oregano, fennel seed and the red wine. Simmer to reduce the liquid, for about ten minutes.

2. Meanwhile, med mussels prepprep the mussels by rinsing in a colander. If you have any that won’t close under the water, try tapping them on the counter. Throw away any that won’t open, and any broken ones.

3. Once the liquid has reduced add the mussels to the pan and cover. Toss the mussels periodically to distribute them so they cook evenly. In about five-to-ten minutes the shells should have all opened. Once the meat inside has firmed up and pulls aside easily from the shell, remove from heat, add olives and stir and let stand, covered, for a minute. Add some of the crumbled feta to each bowl as you serve.

Med Mussels 1

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